A Closer Look: SF’s and L.A.’s GLBT film festivals heat up with Latin spice by Kevin M. Thomas

Elvis & Madona

Elvis & Madona

San Francisco’s GLBT film festival has a definite Latin flavor this year – with a lot of quality entries from South America. Two of these films will also be featured at L.A.’s OUTFEST from July 8th – 18th.

One standout is “Elvis & Madona,” screening June 19 at the Castro in SF at 4pm. After its recent acclaim at New York’s Brazilian Film Festival, this endearing story is actually a straight love story as it deals with a butch dyke pizza delivery woman who inspires to be a photographer and her blossoming relationship with tranny cabaret performer Madona.

Sometimes the movie takes a familiar path in bringing the two characters together, but in the long run, their relationship is believable and earnest.

The movie really excels in the scenes showcasing Elvis’ (Simone Spoladore) efforts to be a photographer. Those moments are good to look at aesthetically and seem authentic.

Plan B

Plan B

Argentina has a gem on its hands with “Plan B”  – a story so intriguing that it’s hard not to want to see it. “Plan B” tells the story of Bruno, who is devastated after his girlfriend Laura dumps him. But when he learns her new boyfriend might be bisexual, he concocts a plan to get Laura back by seducing the new bf, so the new boyfriend will break up with Laura. Perhaps a plot device best used for a soap opera, this tale is not melodramatic at all.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The budding relationship between Bruno and the bisexual Pablo plays out nicely on screen and the tension between the two men grows with every scene. When the two men finally embrace the fire that’s ignited between them, the payoff for the audience is worth the wait.

Actors Manuel Vignau and Lucas Ferraro are wonderful together, making their relationship one you’d root for. And both actors are attractive, but far from male models, making this seem more like a real love story rather than a titillating contrivance.

“Plan B” plays Monday, June 21 at 9:30pm  at Berkeley’s Elmwood Theatre and Thursday, June 24 at 6:30pm at San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre. “Plan B” also plays at Outfest Saturday, July 10 at 7:00pm at the DGA 1 in L.A.

"From Beginning to End"

"From Beginning to End"

The taboo romantic tale of Brazil’s “From Beginning to End” has actors that actually look more like models; a movie that its hard not to like simply for the two sexy actors. Fortunately, Rafael Cardoso and Joao Gabriel Vasconcellos’  more than look good – they are convincing in this tale of half-brothers who maintain a lifetime partnership.

Seldom separated, the brothers in “From Beginning” seem to be one of those loves that was meant to be. The two prove to be soulmates in every sense of the word. Perhaps the writer made them half-brothers for people to be able to digest the incestuous relationship with a spoonful of sugar. Yet in time, one doesn’t dwell on that aspect of the story. This might be due to the portrayal of the actors but more to do with the fact that the movie doesn’t really deal with the incestuous relationship head on. It mentions it, discusses it a little but mostly skirts around it. No one in their lives seem to have a major concern where this relationship is going from the onset.

Regardless, the film is beautiful to watch, which is enhanced by Ueli Steiger’s great cinematography and André Abujamra’s lush, haunting score. And perhaps there’s a few too many montage shots, still the movie is moving.

“From Beginning to End’ plays Saturday, June 26 at 6pm at the Castro Theatre in SF and Friday, July 9 at 9:45pm at the DGA 1 in L.A.
Learn more about these films and to get tickets, go to www.frameline.org and www.outfest.org